Let’s get to the important stuff first: the Rays won, and the Yankees lost, extending the Rays lead to five games with 33 games remaining.
Now to the details: that was some gross sausage making tonight. The bats struggled against John Means, a pitcher they had owned all year. The defense was a lot of WTFing. Home plate umpire Doug Eddings was abysmal at calling balls and strikes. Even shiny new toy Adam Conley was considerably less shiny. But the Rays won anyway. How? Not because of luck dragons. Not because of grit and the Will to Win. Friends, it is time to admit that more often than not, the Rays win these sort of games because they are really, really good. They are considerably more talented than Orioles, which means Baltimore needs to play a lot better and get more breaks. Simple as that.
I mean, it helps that God is a Rays fan, but you get the idea.
Michael Wacha took on John Means.
Saturday night baseball at The Yard pic.twitter.com/bKs1Cn8Spa— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) August 28, 2021
I’ve been on the Michael Wacha death watch for a while, but Wacha wasn’t the problem tonight. He was honestly pretty sharp, with his fastball sitting at 95 and hitting 97 whenever he wanted it. He has seemingly abandoned his cutter, leaning on his curve and change up instead. His misleading line for the night: 4.1 innings, 3 hits, 1 earned run, 6 strikeouts, and 2 walks.
Of the three hits he gave up, two were of the infield variety, and they probably should have been outs. DJ Stewart singled to Luplow in the second inning. And Jorge Mateo singled to third on a ball Yandy couldn’t scoop in the third inning. Still in the third, Mateo went all Matrix-y on Wander while stealing second.
Mountcastle then worked an extended at bat before drawing a walk. But Wacha enduced Sandander to fly out, ending the threat.
Things went a little sideways in the fifth. Severino doubled to right on a rare mistake from Wacha. Then, after a Mateo strikeout, Gutierrez walked, ending Wacha’s night. Adam Conley came on, and after getting ahead of Cedric Mullins 0-2, hit him with the 2-2 pitch to load the bases. A sac fly by Mountcastle put the O’s on the board.
The sixth was just weird. Cash left the lefty Conley in to face a slew of right handed hitters, and it turned out kind of like you’d expect. Austin Hays hit a one out triple off the wall in right on a ball that Margot did not play particularly well. Ramon Urias followed with a six pitch walk. Severino then doubled over Arozarena’s head in left on a ball Randy definitely misplayed, scoring Hays. Then Mateo singled to center, scoring Urias. 3-0 Orioles.
What the heck, man???
Meanwhile, Means, while not cruising, wasn’t exactly sweating. Through six innings, he had given up just three hits, and only one for extra bases. His pitch count was in order. Not much in the way of stressful pitches. So it was kinda weird when, after a one out single through the middle by Diaz and a double into the rightfield corner by Lowe, Brandon Hyde made the call to the bullpen. But hey, what do I know?
Dillon Tate came in, and got pinch hitter Austin Meadows to hit into a soft 4-3 RBI groundout. Joey Forearms followed with a pinch hit double to left that Hays mistread. 3-2 Orioles.
JT Chargois worked a scoreless seventh. And to tell the truth, he didn’t look great. Seemed to struggle with his command. But he was supported by this jaw-dropping play at third by Joey Wendle.
Sleeper agent Cole Sulser took the mound in the eighth, which was a signal for the Rays to complete the comeback. KK led off with a five pitch walk, and Randy — who didn’t look like he got all of it — took a 2-1 fastball just over the big wall in right.
And that was that. Andrew Kittredge worked a clean two inning save.
Of note for people who care about such things: Wander extended his on base streak to 28 games.
Your Three Stars of the Game
- Joey Wendle. Clutch hit, and the best play at third Baltimore has seen since Brooks Robinson patroled the hot corner.
- Michael Wacha. He deserved better.
- Randy Arozarena. When a guy hits the game winning homer, I guess you have to hand it to him.
The Rays look for the sweep tomorrow as Chris Archer takes on Spenser Watkins at 1:05 PM.